Section I: Spells
Section II: Blessings
Section III: Magical Appliances
A simple word yet one that stands for so many things. It is beauty, it is vileness. It is the creation of the new, it is the destruction of the old. It makes life easier, it adds trouble to our existence.
I remember my first teacher at this royal institution, so many years ago, a rotund wizard with jolly cheeks who enjoyed life to the fullest. “Girl,” he told me, “you may think that magic is the answer to all your questions. Don’t deny it, I can see it in your eyes. Trouble is, it isn’t. Magic is an answer that only leads to new questions without resolution. So, afore you cast a spell, look closely whether there is a mundane solution available.”
He was a wise man, and proof of his teachings I have seen too many times. Wizards who relied on their magic continuously and caught themselves in a web spun by their own spells. Clerics who are so sure of their God’s trust in them that they lose sight of the people they ought to care for. Good people who lead themselves to their own downfall through magic.
Every year that a new class of students is introduced at the college, I repeat the admonition of my teacher to them. It has been the core of my philosophy on magic, and it has served me well. I hope that it has done equally well for my students, and thus it is with the same hope that I include it in the preface to this volume.
This book intends to collect all the knowledge of magical spells, blessings and curses available on Gushémal. By its nature it is a task that may never see an end; oftentimes new spells are developed, or old ones are adapted to new use. Therefore I have to rely on the wizards of our world to inform me of such changes, or of spells I have overlooked, or of discoveries of old magical appliances. If you should obtain knowledge of any such incident, please feel free to send me a message by magiscribe.
On the Nature of Magic
The supernatural is not an easy force to wield. It is difficult to describe the feeling of magic to the one whose talent is too small or untrained; some have likened it to the water of a mighty ocean trapped in a bubble beyond our realm of life. A wizard or priest can force a rupture into the bubble, through which magic flows, and it is the magic wielder’s skill that controls the flow and feeds it to the proper use.
Every living thing on our world has the ability to cause such a rupture, yet most cannot hold more than a few particles of magic, far below the threshold level needed to cast a simple spell. It is therefore as if this person had no magical talent at all. With those who have a higher capacity but have never received any training in magic, they cause ruptures accidentally, and the magic flowing into them is hard to control. (And without any – or with only limited – control, it becomes doubtful that any noticeable effect will occur. Unless, of course, there is subconscious control, which is often the case with the powerful yet untrained, and then the results often are catastrophic.)
This ability to hold particles of magic we call the thaumaturgical level – or TL – of a person. It is not a characeristic fixated at birth, but it can change and expand with training and experience. Understanding how magic flows helps the wizard to better control the influx, while the constant use of the power of holding makes it stronger. In the latter regard, the TL is similar to the muscular strength. Steady exertion increases physical strength, just as steady exertion of magical powers increases the TL.
The higher the TL, the more powerful spells a wizard may cast. Each casting of magic naturally drains the particles that the wizard is holding, and thus he or she will have to replenish his or her reservoir. Unfortunately, this procedure takes time and a rested person; under conditions of stress, it is hard to attain the composure needed to properly open a rupture in a controlled fashion.
So, although in theory it is possible for a wizard to recharge after every expenditure of magical energy, it usually is impossible due to outside factors.
A comment aside may be permitted here: From historical records we can tell that at times in the past it was easier to draw magical power, sometimes far easier. Other records indicate that there were also times when it was much more difficult than in our age. There are numerous theories on why this is so, yet I have found flaws in most of them. Some, for instance, claim that the skin of the bubble of magic grows thicker and thinner over time, therefore it becomes easier or more difficult to open a rupture.
Yet in my beloved Cayaboré, we have records reaching back a long time, and in these records we have measured the TLs of many wizards and priests, along with the ruptures they tore into the bubble. According to all the statistics, the ruptures opened to the same width, yet more (or less) raw magic flowed out. Therefore, the metaphorical skin retains the identical thickness all the time.
It does not change, yet there are different amounts available. Why? The theory I personally favor harkens back to the idea of an ocean contained in that bubble. Such an ocean would be subject to changing tides, ebb and flood, playing out on a cosmic timescale. All the wizards and priests of Gushémal are at one shore, reaching out to scoop up the supernatural water from that ocean. At flood it pours into their waiting hands, at ebb they have to make do with only a trickle.
At this time, I suppose, we are somewhere inbetween, and perhaps within our lifetime the tides of magic will shift to our favor.
Spells vs. Blessings
It is a misconception that there is no difference between wizards and priests. Yes, both use the same supernatural resource, yet they cannot use it in the same fashion. Jeyahrar – praised be the god of magic – has granted us wizards the gift of creation. Magic poured through us can generate new from nothing; its energy will transform into physical reality, be it a ball of fire or a figurine of gold.
Priests derive their thaumaturgical power from the gods they serve, wherefore their TLs prior to their induction into the order is rather irrelevant. Through their gods, their TLs are raised to a certain level, even when there had been practically none before. Yet they cannot create. What they can do is alter things that already exist. They cast a blessing – or a curse -, and the magical effect occurs. Theirs is the power to heal, for instance, an ability that no wizard can possess.
Sometimes the effect of a wizardly spell and a priestly blessing seem the same, yet the process of achieving said effect is very different. Oftentimes a wizard has to resort to magical components for the spell to function properly, such as a salve that is applied to a surface and makes the surface sticky. It appears that either the salve or the surface are changed, yet they remain the same. What actually happens is that the salve serves as both a conduit and container for the stickiness!
On the other hand, a priest can also use physical components and alter them through his blessing so that they appear to be newly created. The difference is fleeting, yet it is present.
(The question of whether a priestly use of magic is a “blessing” or a “curse” has never been clearly answered. Some orders of priests have labeled their spells accordingly; some view all spells that improve their targets are blessings, and all that destroy or degrade are curses; some finally have decided to only use the word “blessing”.)
Magical Appliances (Objects)
As indicated in the previous paragraphs, both wizards and priests can produce magical appliances, albeit by different ways. The range of possible appliances is as wide as the range of spells and blessings – which are only limited by imagination and TL.
There are some common categories which I would like to touch upon:
First off, there is the appliance that provides magical ability to a non-wielder. The object is usually loaded with a certain, fixed effect – say, a spell to detect traps. This effect can be called up by some non-magical procedure, such as pushing a button or saying a keyword. The vast majority of these objects have a limited amount of use, although a wizard or priest can recharge them at any time.
(The latter depends very much on the nature of that fixed magical effect. If it is one that demands a lot of energy, not every wizard has the TL available to spend it on this object. But to use the example above, an appliance which detects traps should not noticeably task a wizard to recharge it. Furthermore, such an appliance probably can be used for thousands of times before needing a recharge anyway.)
By the way, many wizards and priests also use these objects. For one thing, their use does not lower their TL; for another, they do not have to bother with remembering the exact spell and going through the procedure of casting it.
Secondly, there are the appliances which enhance the magical talent. In fact they serve as an additional container of magic, thus increasing the TL of the wizard.
The majority of appliances in this category can only supply their TL energy once. When it is expended, it is gone, and the appliance will turn into a very ordinary, natural object. There are a very few and precious ones, though, that will replenish themselves. Therefore they can be counted as a permanent enhancement of a wizard’s TL rather than a temporary one. (Losing such an appliance, of course, removes the permanence of said enhancement.)
It is not recommended that non-wielders use objects of this category. Although they can use them – after all, everybody has a TL of some sort -, they have no idea of how to use it and could cause all sorts of unwanted trouble – instead of the effect they were seeking. (The only reasonable alternative would be for a self-replenishing appliance. A non-wielder who constantly bears such an appliance would automatically equal an ordinary wizard. Still, the same training is necessary before he should be permitted to fully utilize the object.)
Finally, a third category is constituted by those that have a constant magical effect. As an example let us consider the rings of protection against magic that have come to be popular in heathen Ibrollene. Their effect is to create a sphere around the wearer that repels magical spells of all sorts (including healing blessings, which can be a serious drawback). Thus they might be counted in the first category.
Yet they possess a TL of their own which constantly replenishes itself, wherefore the effect of the appliance usually does not wear off. (Occasionally it can be overtaxed: In the case of the rings of protection, if strong enough magic is cast their way, the rings will burn out and lose their power. If these rings were properly manufactured, that is all that will happen. If they were the slipshod, poor productions the Ibrollenians of today patch together, there’s a more than even chance that they will detonate and take off the wearer’s hand.)
Thus they also fall into the second category. Both combined, these form a third type all their own.
Notes on the Structure and Acknowledgements
I have separated this book into three sections.
The first will deal with magical spells of the wizardly sort, with which I am most experienced. My students have been most helpful in providing detailed information on the spells through their experiments – no doubt hoping that their grades would improve. Beyond that, my main source of information are the surviving books of the master wizard of the Arrufat peninsula, Alwouldiss of Daeshael. Oh, how I wish that he could have learned of my gratitude, and how I wish that his wisdom would have survived. Alas, he vanished from the face of Gushémal more than five decades ago, and all wizards mourn his passing from this world.
The second is dedicated to priestly blessings and curses. For this section I have relied in particular on the help of Blessed Speaker Roshan, High Priestess of Decirius in Cayaboré. Roshan has been most kind in detailing the spells of her order as well as facilitate meetings with priests from every other approved order in Cayaboré. The information on the priests of the vile Shenaumac is mostly from those who have suffered their evil. Some information though comes from such a priest himself, an awful creature devoid of any humanity that is caged in the dragonrider corps’ headquarters. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Councillor Barangor of Cayaboré for the opportunity to interview the priest of darkness, despite the facts that my bones still shiver in memory.
In the final section I shall list all the magical appliances known to me or brought to my attention. Herein, I rely most heavily on Alwouldiss’ “Book of the Artefacts”, which has been a most enlightening source. Some very good information has also come from the Darawk scholars, in and out of Cayaboré, whose libraries have yielded much new material. I would like to especially thank the Honored Sage Ylvain of Chazevo as well as the Honored Sage Barbrat of Ucman.
Furthermore, in all the sections, I have been fortunate enough to rely on the numerous letters sent by my colleagues across the world, and I am looking forward to continue reading their contributions, so that this book shall approach its final goal: an encompassing look at the magic of Gushémal.